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Measuring Left-Right Political Orientation: The Choice of Response Format

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  • Kroh, Martin

Abstract

Although left-right items are a standard tool of public opinion research, there is little agreement about the optimal response format. Two disputes can be identified in the literature: (1) whether to provide respondents with a small or large number of answer categories, and (2) whether or not to administer the response scale including a midpoint. This study evaluates the performance of the 101, 11, and 10-point left-right scales, which directly speak to the two disputed aspects of measuring the left-right dimension. Drawing on data from a split ballot multitrait multimethod experiment carried out in a methodological pretest to the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), the analysis shows that the choice of a response format makes a difference in terms of data quality: the 11-point left-right scale produces the highest validity of left-right data closely followed by the 10-point scale. Moreover, an application from electoral research illustrates that the choice of response formats affects substantive interpretations about the nature of the left-right dimension. Since all three scales perform about equally well in terms of reliability and the ease of administration, the findings suggest that the 11-point left-right scale should be used in survey research.

Suggested Citation

  • Kroh, Martin, 2007. "Measuring Left-Right Political Orientation: The Choice of Response Format," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 204-220.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:74462
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:57:y:1963:i:02:p:368-377_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. N/A, 1970. "Note," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 2(4), pages 1-1, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Economou, Athina & Gavroglou, Stavros & Kollias, Christos, 2013. "Economic fluctuations and political self-placement," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 57-65.
    2. Pei-shan Liao, 2014. "More Happy or Less Unhappy? Comparison of the Balanced and Unbalanced Designs for the Response Scale of General Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(6), pages 1407-1423, December.
    3. Denise Laroze & David Hugh-Jones & Arndt Leininger, 2015. "The impact of group identity on coalition formation," University of East Anglia School of Economics Working Paper Series 2015-03, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    4. Carlotta Balestra & Nicolas Ruiz, 2015. "Scale-Invariant Measurement of Inequality and Welfare in Ordinal Achievements: An Application to Subjective Well-Being and Education in OECD Countries," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 123(2), pages 479-500, September.

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